Looking for secular proof for 609 BC...

by AuldSoul 33 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    I don't know how my caution was 'backhanded' but press on in your research! Sorry if I was offensive.

    I just wanted to add, avoiding and ignoring facts that support Bible prophecy is a trait of anti-JWism

    . I hope that by reading the whole of Jeremiah 25 I was not guilty of doing that!

  • peacefulpete

    Also in Wiki under 'babylon';

    Babylon is the Greek variant of Akkadian Babilu, an ancient city in Mesopotamia (Location: 32° 32'11?N, 44° 25'15?E, modern Al Hillah, Iraq). It was the "holy city" of Babylonia from early times, and the seat of the Neo-Babylonian empire from 612 BC.



    On the fall of Nineveh (612 BC), Babylon threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian empire. Egypt had had a very large cultural influence prior to this, until the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish and thus removed them as a major world empire.

    Also note that Babylon restored its dynasty for a brief while. Holding on till 514 or so. The Persians having to retake it a couple times. This means we have a whole bunch of dates we can crunch into a formula to create a fullfillment apart from its context. This is what i meant by selective reading and dating choice.

  • AuldSoul


    Babylonia became independent; their king Nabopolassar, along with Cyaxares of Media, destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC, and Assyria fell.
    This from the above linked Wiki article. I think that you may be too close to the topic. When an empire falls it takes years if ever to completely uproot all vestiges of the previous empire. I think that you attach importance to Haran because it fits your interpretation.

    I have read the whole of Jeremiah as well, in several translations. I don't mind you thinking whatever floats your boat about my motives, the fact of the matter is your opinion is based on conjecture.

    Now, I will offer a different potential rationality to explain my "interpretation" along these lines. It offers an exiting JW something to hold onto that is AT THE VERY LEAST more solid than the understanding that Jeremiah in some way meant Babylon would be called to account in 537 BC when Cyrus was already reigning. Don't you agree?

    I attach importance to Harran because HISTORY attaches importance to Harran. It was the new capital of the Assyrian Empire after Nineveh fell. As long as Assyria was recognized as an independent nation and had the backing of Egypt, it was a significant threat to the ascendancy of Babylon as the new world power. Until 609 there were TWO world powers. You don't want to see that because it doesn't fit with YOUR interpretation.

    A general called Ashur-uballit II, with military support from the Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II, held out as a remnant of Assyrian power at Harran until 609 BC, after which Assyria ceased to exist as an independent nation.

    Your charge that this was just a matter of cleaning up the last vestiges is not founded in secular history. Babylon emerged as a world power in 612 BC, but did not become the world power until 609 BC, as is supported unfailingly by secular historians (many of whom have no interest in disproving or proving the Bible to be accurate, unlike you).

    I'll thank you not to denigrate my objectivity without clear proof that my objectivity is in some way clouded.


  • TheListener

    Perhaps this could be likened to Alexander the Great chasing Darius the Persian emperor around to make sure he was personally defeated.

    Alexander had defeated the Persian armies in 331 but needed Darius, either dead or alive (preferably alive) to prove his dominance and completely replace the Persian empire with his own. That happened at Ecbatana in 330.

  • Leolaia

    I have made similar points about the time periods of Daniel, as being motivated primarily by symbolic numbers (70 periods of 7 years, or 10 jubilees in Daniel 9, and the subdivision of the final 7 years into equal halves of 3 1/2 years), expressing a periodizied view of history rather than a strictly chronological one (tho of course the periods are anchored to certain events which may be dated).

    From this point of view, Jeremiah was spot-on in his predictions about the political realities. Not only did he reject the hopes that the exiles would return home soon and that Judah would gain its independance from the Babylonian "yoke", but he predicted that the situation was to last into the next generation, but not beyond that. Of course, this prediction was based on a pre-existing 70-year motif but history proved him correct (better than some of our modern political prognosticators). In other respects, as PP points out, his expectations did not turn out the way he had hoped. This was part of the reason why the author of Daniel in ch. 9 sought to reinterpret the expectations surrounding Jeremiah's 70-year prophecy.

    I do feel however that Jeremiah reckoned his period of Babylonian supremacy (29:10) and vassalge of surrounding nations (25:11) at some definite point, and the wording in ch. 25 (the earlier prophecy) strongly suggests that 605 BC (v. 1) is the terminus a quo for the 70 years, i.e. "for twenty-three years ... until today" (v. 3), and this was about the time Jehoiakim became a vassal (tho this is debatable). The letter to the exiles in ch. 29 however dates to after 597 BC (v. 1-2), some 8 years later and may reflect a later conceptualization of the 70 years, and the reference to the 70 years as a period reserved "for Babylon" has as its focus Babylon's status (compare Daniel 4:29, which states that God "confers kingship on whom he pleases," with the implication in 29:10 that 70 years are granted to Babylon), while the reference to the 70 years in ch. 25 has the status of Judah and "surrounding nations" as its focus. It is then an exegetical matter of whether Jeremiah in ch. 29 was talking of Babylon's status as a political power in general (suggested by the wording itself) or its status as ruler over Judah and other nations (suggested by the connection to ch. 25). The fact is that history is messy in the details and transitions of power often take time over a period of years (look at the situation in Iraq), and different nations came under Babylonian rule at different times; similarly, Jerusalem and Judah underwent successive desolations and devastations and deportations over time, so it becomes a somewhat arbitrary matter of deciding between 612 or 609 BC as the "end of Assyria", for this "end" was really a process spanning several years. 609 BC however is no less a candidate than 612 BC (in disagreement with PP), if one were to pick a date, because this year marked the final end of Assyria as an independent nation. I am reminded of the way the final week is reckoned in Daniel 9; the high priest Onias III was deposed in 174 BC but the critical event that signals the final period of the era is his assassination (being "cut off") several years later in 171 BC. Apparently for the author of Daniel, it was this event (the end of the legitimate priesthood in his death) that had greater significance than his mere removal from power. So it is an open question of when Babylon could have been conceived as emerging as world power....612 BC? (when Assyria lost the bulk of its political power, along with its capital) 609 BC? (when Assyria was finally fully vanquished) 605 BC? (when Babylon defeated Egypt to become the supreme power in the Near East), etc. Any number of these can be entertained because of the duration it took for Babylon to gain political power. If one wants to pick a date that represents the beginning of Babylon as an unchallenged power, 605 BC would be the best date.

    Of course, none of this impinges on the factual basis of Neo-Babylonian chronology, which is an entirely separate subject (i.e. none of the varying ways to assume a terminus a quo for the 70 years assumes a different chronology than the one discussed here).

  • peacefulpete
    ...it becomes a somewhat arbitrary matter of deciding between 612 or 609 BC as the "end of Assyria", for this "end" was really a process spanning several years. 609 BC however is no less a candidate than 612 BC (in disagreement with PP),....605...

    Thanks for clarifying leolaia, as usual I wasn't as lucid as I thought, for that was my point. It becomes arbitrary to selectively choose a date to hang such a subjective thing as Babylonian 'supremacy'. My wife's history course uses 605 and Carchemish as the end of the Assyrian empire...there you go. While obviously I have pi55ed off Auldsoul I really do disagree with him that exiting JWs needs something to believe about jeremiah 25 other than truth. Its like ripping off the bandaid. Its really not so bad to understand that Jeremiah was a human with human limitations. I went thru the process of demystifying the Bible myself. It lingers in the back of the brain even after the disillusionment.

    Auldsoul..I meant no disrespect.

  • AuldSoul

    Annoyed, but not pi55ed. I didn't think it was intentional, I just didn't understand why you felt the need to be so dogmatic about something that was plainly open to interpretation. By whichever interpretation you apply, 607 BC is wrong, but it is a nice tool for my toolkit that I know one valid interpretation seems to make Jeremiah's prophecy fulfilled perfectly on schedule.

    It might do you well to consider that some aren't just gathering information to aid their own personal departure. I think that would expand your perspective enough to imagine what I'm about. I've helped four out already, not including myself. I hope they aren't the last. At least one more is well on the way out. Two will still talk with me.

    AuldSoul (of the "Burning the Organizational Bridges While Leaving the People Bridges Intact" class)

  • peacefulpete

    I applaud your concern for others. Believe it or not, I share that concern.

  • Jeffro

    One of the Society's pieces of 'evidence' that the 70 years could not have begun in 609 is that Nebuchadnezzar was not yet king in that year (according to actual chronology, not the Society's 20-years-out version). (pseudo)-Scholar has espoused on this forum often that Nebuchadnezzar was only "crown prince" at the time. Of course, such an approach conflicts with, and ignores, the fact that Nebuchadnezzar could quite properly be referred to king at that time, in the same way that Daniel called Belshazzar king while he was yet "crown prince". The Insight book says the following on Belshazzar being called king during Nabonidus' reign:

    It is true that official inscriptions give Belshazzar the title "crown prince," while in the book of Daniel his title is "king." (Da 5:1-30) An archaeological discovery in northern Syria suggests why this may be the case. In 1979, a life-sized statue of a ruler of ancient Gozan was unearthed. On its skirt were two inscriptions, one in Assyrian and the other in Aramaic—the language of the Belshazzar account in Daniel. The two almost identical inscriptions had one outstanding difference. The text in the imperial Assyrian language says that the statue was of "the governor of Gozan." The text in Aramaic, the language of the local people, describes him as "king."

    Likewise, "crown prince" Nebuchadnezzar could properly be referred to as king while Nabopolassar was still king.

    Also, whilst Jeremiah 25:1 does refer to Jehovah's words occurring to Jeremiah in Nebuchadnezzar's first year (his accession year by Daniel's reckoning) around 605BC, it does necessitate that the actual 70 years of 'nations serving Babylon' referred to had not already begun after Assyria's demise in 609.

  • peacefulpete

    Not that it really is relevant but I think I remember that Nebuchadnezzar was not named in the LXX section of Jeremiah that equates with chapter 25 in our text and represents one of the later additions that I alluded to before. This may have contributed to the popular misinterpretation both by the writer of Daniel and the Wt today.

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